How long until Excelerate files for LNG export from Massachusetts Bay?

How long until the same company that already got FE authorization for LNG export from Texas files for the same from its idle LNG facility offshore from Boston?

The Northeast Gas Association wrote February 2014, The Role of LNG in the Northeast Natural Gas (and Energy) Market,

The Northeast Gateway facility is owned and operated by Excelerate Energy. The facility began commercial operations in May 2008. Operating approximately 18 miles east of Boston in Massachusetts Bay, the offshore LNG facility is capable of injecting vaporized natural gas into the existing offshore HubLine natural gas pipeline system operated by Spectra Energy. Excelerate Energy and Spectra Energy teamed up to extend a 16-mile, 24-inch pipeline lateral from Spectra Energy’s HubLine to the Deepwater Port. It imported several cargoes from 2008 to 2010 but none since, as the market has shifted in light of the rise in U.S. domestic shale gas production, including the Marcellus Shale.

Well, that must hurt, all those stranded fossil fuel assets literally underwater in the Atlantic. Oh, wait! The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD)’s Deeepwater Port Licensing Program says about Approved Applications and Operational Facilities, regarding “Northeast Gateway (Excelerate Energy)”:

Currently, Excelerate is consulting with the Maritime Administration and other Federal agencies to obtain renewal of the required Federal permits and authorizations for the continuation of port operations and maintenance activities as well as address other outstanding operational issues.

MARAD approved Excelerate’s new Environmental Impact Assessment 5 December 2012.

Here’s Excelerate’s 17 March 2010 license re-submittal for Northeast Gateway. I don’t see anywhere it excludes exports. It does say:

ARTICLE 11. Managed Access.

Pursuant to 33 U.S.C. §1507(d), the Licensee may exclusively utilize the entire capacity of the Deepwater Port for the acceptance, transport, storage, regasification, or conveyance of natural gas produced, processed, marketed or otherwise obtained by agreement by the licensee or its affiliates.

That doesn’t say Excelerate can’t get the gas from an onshore pipeline and convey it to ships going to other countries. Sure, it says “regasification” but that’s in an “or” clause, so it’s not required.

And this:

ARTICLE 12. Expansion and Modification

The Licensee may expand or modify the Deepwater Port, or increase the capacity thereof or of any part thereof, in accordance with the approval of the Administrator if the Administrator determines that the expansion or modification is technologically practicable and consistent with the Act and applicable safety and environmental laws, and international treaties and agreements.

So if it can’t export now, a simple administrative approval might be all it would take, not another license.

And if H.R. 6, just approved by the House Commerce and Energy Committee yesterday, becomes law, 159 WTO member countries apparently would be legal export destinations.

How do we know Excelerate is even interested in LNG export?

Because of U.S. DoE Office of Fossil Energy (FE), Excelerate Liquefaction Solutions I, LLC – FE Dkt. No. 12-61-LNG,

The Office of Fossil Energy gives notice of receipt of an application filed on May 25, 2012, by Excelerate Liquefaction Solutions I, LLC (ELS) requesting long-term authorization to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the terminal it intends to construct, own, and operate in Calhoun County, Texas, to any nation with which the United States currently has, or in the future may enter into, a Free Trade Agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas and LNG…. Order 3128 was granted on 8/9/12.

But where would the gas come from to export through the Northeast Gateway, since the news always seems to be that New England has a natural gas shortage? Well, how about for example Kinder Morgan’s proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) Northeast expansion?

Or Spectra Energy’s proposed Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline expansion, which would take in Marcellus Shale fracked methane and connect to Spectra’s Texas Eastern pipeline? Spectra CEO Greg Ebel has said he expects to export fracked gas and is already busily building a couple of yard-wide pipelines to an LNG export terminal in British Columbia.

Plus we just discovered a third company already authorized for LNG export from Florida, where Spectra wants to build its Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, connecting to Williams Transco in Alabama, and gashing from there across Georgia and north Florida, connecting to FPL’s Florida Southeast Connection, and thence to the sea.

If more fracked gas comes to Mass., why wouldn’t Spectra and Kinder Morgan expect to export it?


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